Friday, November 13, 2015

Sensory Play at the Beach



I've been wanting to write this blog post since this summer but life has gotten in the way and I'm just now sitting down to do it. I was shocked as I watched Baby D playing at the beach this past summer that I had never considered the beach itself as a sensory experience. He had so much fun exploring and kept us on our toes! Here are a few ways you can create fun sensory experiences for your little one on your next beach trip.

  1. Collect seashells. Let your little one feel the different textures (smooth, rough, etc) and compare sizes, shapes, and colors
  2. Play in the sand. Build sand castles (and allow them to demolish them!) Experiment with wet and dry sand. Teach them to build drip castles. Use a sifter and watch the smaller pieces sift out and the larger pieces remain.
  3. Splash! We bring a kiddie pool so Baby D can splash in and out of it without fear of getting knocked over by a wave. He enjoys the independence of getting in and out of the pool on his own.
  4. Play in tidal pools. Tidal pools are an incredible sensory experience! Look at the fish and other sea life that call the pool their home. Feel the water temperature change when a wave comes bringing in a splash of cooler water. Allow your toddler to run and splash in the pool.
  5. Catch (and release!) minnows. Our friend's teenage daughter caught some shiners in a casting net and put them in a bucket for Baby D. He delighted in watching the fish and trying to pet one. We then let him do the honors of releasing them back to the sea.
  6. Swim! He held onto Baby D and let him swim with us. He loved it!
  7. Go on a walk and explore! D loved walking on the beach and exploring the new environment. We let him feel the seaweed, chase seagulls, and find "treasures."
I have always loved the beach but watching D learn to love it made my heart swell bigger than the waves! It's incredible how much learning occurred on what was meant to be a recreational trip.

Safety Tips:
  • Never leave your child unattended near any water, especially at the beach!
  • Use sunscreen and protective clothing
  • If your child is still putting things in his/her mouth be mindful of choking hazards like small shells

Monday, November 9, 2015

Review: Greta the Fox Infant and Toddler Swing




As I've mentioned before I love wood toys for babies and toddlers. Many of the swings on the market are made of hard plastic so I was pretty excited to review the Greta the Fox Infant and Toddler Swing.


The swing is eco-friendly and varnished and colored only with non toxic paints which is important to me since Baby D chews on EVERYTHING! The swing is appropriate for children aged from 6 months until 3 years and can hold up to 37 lbs. I think you need to make sure baby has good torso control though because little ones have too much wiggle room if they don't. It can be used outdoor or indoor, hanged on tree branch, porch or ceiling - we hung ours from the jungle gym.

My one caveat is that the instructions are really hard to follow but it looks like they are responding to customer feedback and making a video to show how to install it which will be really nice.

Overall, it's a really nice eco-friendly swing at the same price point as the plastic competitors. I would definitely recommend it.  Check it out on Amazon.







Saturday, November 7, 2015

How to Build a Lego Table from an Ikea Lack Table


lego table ikea hack

I am not a handy person. I have no real craftsman skills in spite of my sincere desire to do-it-myself. Because of this I am ridiculously proud of the Lego Table I built for Baby D.  I know screwing the legs on a Lack table doesn't exactly make me a carpenter but it felt like a coup just the same. I love this table because not only does it look nice and match my furniture but I also designed it to store his bricks since we are short on storage space.

Supplies:

Steps:
  1. Screw legs onto Lack Table
  2. Trace Lego base plates where you want them with a pencil
  3. Apply Gorilla Glue to back of Lego base plates- be careful to avoid the very edge since the glue will expand. I gave myself about a quarter of an inch of leeway 
  4. Carefully place base plates in the outline you drew and hold for 30 seconds. Add something heavy like canned veggies to hold plates down while the glue dries
  5. Place Gorilla Glue on Trofast rails and hold in place on the underside of the table for 30 seconds.
  6. Let glue dry over night and enjoy your new table with Lego storage!
Voila! You have a Lego Table that stores your bricks and looks a heck of a lot nicer in your living room than a primary colored plastic one (for a lot cheaper!) Right now Baby D loves to climb on top of it and destroy the Duplo buildings I build like he is King Kong. I look forward to him actually *building* on it someday soon!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Review: Mamaway Ring Sling



I am a  babywearing junkie. I have two Tulas, a K'tan, and had an Ergo. I haven't had the opportunity to try out a ring sling so Mamaway gave me the opportunity to try it out I jumped on it!

 
I really liked the Pima cotton material. I think it was the first thing I noticed. Florida summers are brutal so baby D sweats pretty bad. The Mamaway sling kept him as cool as possible given the heat.

I liked the ability to keep him I my hip since my Tula doesn't allow for hip carries. Clearly he liked it, too.




The ring sling is also great for breast feeding on the go which is nice. I also like that it has it's own built in storage pocket. It fits really well in my diaper bag for when I need a carrier in a pinch. The price is also nice- much cheaper than a woven wrap ring sling but just as functional.

I definitely recommend checking out the Mamaway Ring Sling Baby Carrier on Amazon!


Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: Pandaroo Charcoal Bamboo Inserts and Wetbag






I'm taking a break from my Baby's First Year series to catch up on reviews. I've been meaning to write post about our cloth diapering experience so far but just haven't gotten around to it. I was therefore pretty excited for the opportunity to try out Pandaroo's inserts . It gave me the push I needed to write about cloth diapering with the added bonus of FINALLY seeing what the charcoal bamboo hype was all about.



I love cloth diapering; along with breastfeeding it's probably the best money saving decision we've made as parents. It's also green and earth friendly. We are mostly a prefold and covers family but also have a few pockets, fitteds, hybrids and all in ones, too.

Out of the package the first thing I noticed about the Pandaroo inserts was how incredibly soft they are. This made me a little apprehensive because I was burned by the Kissluvs fleece fitteds that got rough after washing. I was pleasantly surprised that they have remained soft after washing and use.


The inserts are charcoal bamboo fleece on the outside and 3 layers of microfiber on the inside. The fleece gives a stay dry feeling and is safe against baby's skin unlike microfiber. They are gusseted which is a nice feature when not stuffing inside a pocket because it forms to baby better. They also haven't held on to any stink which is great.

I tried them out in a variety of capacities. We added them to all in ones for extra absorption which worked out well. I tried them out in our Bumgenius 4.0 pocket instead of the BG inserts and they worked great for daytime. Overnight it wasn't enough absorption on its own for us which I suspected would be the case. I tried them out in the daytime layed inside of our Thirsties Duo Wraps and liked them that way as well- we normally don't do this so it was a nice change but not something I would do regularly because Baby D still has peanut butter #2 and it's messy.

My favorite way to use the insert has been overnight as a double inside a snappied prefold. It's been bulletproof for us! Before I was using a Thirsties Hemp doubler inside a GMD prefold overnight but it was getting very difficult to snappy shut because D is so squirmy. The gussets really help keep the Pandaroo insert in place.

We took the wetbag to the beach and it was adequate. It's only a layer of PUL instead of fabric with a PUL liner which I prefer but it didn't leak and was a nice bonus with the inserts.

Overall I would give the inserts 5/5 stars and the wetbag 4/5. I loved the inserts and will continue to use them as our primary overnight solution with a prefold.  You can purchase them on Amazon at Pandaroos Charcoal Bamboo 5-Layer Cloth Diaper Insert Liners with Gusseted Legs (Set of 6) and Printed Diaper Wet Bag








 


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Best Toys for Baby's First Year



The second post in my series on Baby's First Year is on Toys. Toys have taken over my house since Baby D arrived on the scene. That being said, some get more mileage then others. The toys on this list are the ones that have been used the most over this past year. These are the ones that are "must buy" according to our family. None of these items were sent for review- they were all purchased by us or received as gifts at my shower so you can trust that I recommend them because we truly love them. Enjoy!

Anything Made By Oball



Seriously. Anything. These toys are beloved in our home. This rattle ball was literally the first toy D could play with. I now include one in every baby shower gift I give. It's inexpensive and he STILL plays with it daily. It's easy for little hands to grasp and is super light for when babies are first learning to hold things. It also doesn't hurt when your toddler chucks it at you which is a plus.



These cars by Oball are also used daily in our home. It took a little longer for D to be able to pick them up because they are heavier than the ball but he loves them! They rattle, roll, and are all around awesome.


Sensory Balls


Baby D LOVES balls. Sensory balls make different sounds and have different textures to stimulate baby's brain and motor development.



The Bright Starts Roll Shake and Spin Activity Balls are a favorite in our home. They have all kinds of different textures and sounds and are easy for little hands to grasp. D's favorite is the one with the red bird in it. I think he likes the sound it makes.



D's other favorite ball is this Edushape Sensory See Me Ball . The texture makes it easy to grasp and he loves to throw it. They also make smaller balls but we haven't gotten around to buying any of those yet.




Mirror
Babies love to look at themselves. Montessori Method encourages having a child safe mirror for babies. Our baby gym included a mirror and it was well loved.

Baby Gym

The baby gym was essential for me. It gave me a place to lay the baby down where he could play. He also used it for tummy time. Not all baby gyms are created equal. I LOVED our Tiny Love  Gymini Activity Gym because it was easily folded to be put out of the way and did not require assembly. The music was redundant but once the batteries died I just didn't replace them. The toys were interesting enough on their own. This is a registry essential in my mind.

Taggies Toys


Babies love tags. The people at Taggies have invented an entire line of toys based on this principle. We have a fabric book (with a mirror), a squeaky toy, a dog, and a blankie.  All of these were well loved by baby D (and our dog!).

Blocks


Although Baby D was technically too young to play with blocks on his own he loved to knock over towers we built for him. We have several different sets including one by Hape , small colored blocks by Melissa and Doug , and LEGO DUPLO (he hasn't grown into these yet). Our favorite by far is our set of Melissa & Doug Unit Blocks . They are a pricy investment but they are the large sized blocks you remember from your childhood and will get mileage for years to come. I plan on making ours an heirloom toy.

Activity Table
 

Baby D loves his Baby Einstein Activity Table still! I'm not normally a fan of toys that make noise but the Baby Einstein one plays mostly classical music so it's not so bad. Besides music it also teaches colors and numbers in English, Spanish, and French. The legs come off so baby can use it for tummy time and sitting play. Once D began to pull to standing I attached the legs and he used it to practice standing. He still plays with this one daily and I have not had to replace the batteries yet!

Peek and Peep Eggs


 Baby D recieved this toy from his godmother for Easter and it was a huge hit! The Peek N Peep Eggs are another toy that will grow with him. Right now he loves to dump the carton and listen to the eggs peep. They also will work with color, shape, and facial expression recognition when he is a little older.




Playskool Busy Poppin' Pals


The Playskool Busy Poppin' Pals was a hand-me-down but D doesn't care- he loves it! At first he was too small to push the buttons but he enjoy pushing the animals down when I would make them pop up. It's been fun watching him learn to open the different mechanisms as his fine motor skills develop. This is a classic toy and great for parents who want to avoid batteries.

Links


My kid loves these things. I have no idea what is so fascinating about them but he loves them. We have the Bright Starts Lots of Links pictured above and also an alphabet set. He loves to dump these out, shake them, chew on them, and discover various toys we attach to them. They also come in handy attaching toys to his stroller, Tula etc.

Books
I firmly believe you can never have too many books. I wrote a separate post about my favorite books for baby's first year. Make sure to check it out!


I would love to hear what you think of the list in the comments. What are your favorite toys?

best toys for baby's first year one year olds